From luxury shopping to movie theaters – the 7 best airports worth the layover

family of 3 with luggage on a trolley inside the airport

Airports are typically mere pit stops on your journey to and from your final destination. But what if the airport itself became the destination? At least for a few plus hours or so. What if layovers and delays transformed from hours of waiting to an exciting escapade? Buckle up and prepare for departure as we explore the world’s most entertaining airports. 

1. Singapore Changi Airport|Changi, Singapore

Named the World’s Best Airport in 2023 by the World Airport Awards, Singapore Changi Airport offers more than the average flight terminals and lounges. This destination has multiple attractions such as a kinetic rain sculpture, tropical rainforest vivarium, water lily garden, rooftop pool, the world’s largest slide in an airport and so much more.

Changi Airport has also won awards for the World’s Best Airport Dining and World’s Best Airport Leisure Amenities. Get a taste of local cuisine at the Straits Food Village located in Terminal 2. This food court dishes up some tasty delights like laksa, nasi lemak and chicken satay. It also provides a nostalgic experience as it’s designed to look like a rural fishing village. 

Looking for a unique wedding location? You can even tie the knot at Changi Airport. Yes, you heard that right. Not only does this airport give the option to have your wedding here, but it also has three venues to choose from. Have your ceremony on the top level of the Jewel Changi Airport or opt for a more intimate option in the Valley View Private Suite overlooking the Shiseido Forest Valley. You can even experience a free 2.5 hour tour of Singapore with layovers of over 5.5 hours! If you have a layover at Singapore Changi Airport, consider yourself very lucky.  

2. Munich International Airport|Munich, Germany

Munich International Airport should be named the party airport of the world because of the number of beer gardens and bars it houses. It’s the second busiest airport in Germany and has more than 150 retail stores and more than 50 dining options. 

For a true Bavarian experience, check out Airbräu, serving cold, authentic Bavarian beers that are brewed right in the airport (Europe’s only airport brewery). Take your beer to the covered beer garden where you can enjoy Bavarian classics like roasted pork and dumplings, as well as a range of international dishes. The brewery also features a regular program of live entertainment, from traditional German bands to comedy acts. 

To feel like you’re no longer in an airport, make your way over to Erdinger Bar & Biergarten. This beer garden features all-wood decor and serves the full menu of beers from the brewery in the nearby town of Erding. If you’re feeling hungry, make sure to order some white sausages, wieners and leberkäse (Bavarian sausage) with bread pretzels and fresh potato salad from the menu – made to complement the traditional Bavarian brews. 

And if you find yourself visiting the Munich International Airport between mid-November and New Years, you’ll be transported into a winter wonderland. Here you will find decorated trees, twinkling lights, a pine forest, an ice rink and local market goodies. It’s the ideal place to get in some winter fun before jetting off to your final destination. 

3. Seoul Incheon International Airport|Incheon, South Korea

Seoul Incheon International Airport is the largest airport in South Korea and is recognized for its excellent facilities, comfort, cleanliness, food and shopping. 

If you’re looking for a fun activity, head over to one of the CGV movie theaters. There are two within Terminal 1, with 245 seats for guests to sit back, relax and enjoy a movie between flights. If you’re looking to participate in authentic Korean activities, check out the Korea Traditional Cultural Experience Center, a space where you can make traditional crafts and listen to classical music performances.

Feeling like you need a little self-care after your flight? Don’t worry, the Seoul Incheon International Airport has several shower facilities that are available 24/7 and two Digital Gyms, all free of charge. So you can get that post-flight workout in and take a shower after with no hassle. 

4. Hamad International Airport|Doha, Qatar

Hamad International Airport has been described as one of the most luxurious and architecturally significant airport complex designs in the world. It’s known for some of the finest airport shopping, luxury pop-ups and exemplary dining options. 

If you’re looking to spend your time in the airport on a shopping spree, check out the world-class duty-free shopping experience here. This airport offers some of the biggest names in designer fashion, such as Bottega Veneta, Gucci and Moncler. In addition to fashion and accessories, you can find luxe beauty, skincare and perfume products too. 

It’s common to feel a little stressed at the airport, but if you find yourself in Hamad International Airport, make your way to the Be Relax Shower & Spa. Known as the world’s leading airport Spa brand with over 50 stores, Be Relax offers a serene and efficient spa experience accessible to everyone before take-off or during your layover. Travelers can enjoy a massage, manicure, pedicure, facial or shower. 

Craving something sweet? The first permanent Oreo Cafe outside the USA is located here. This cafe offers a wide variety of sweet treats such as Oreo milkshakes, muffins and cheesecakes. If you’re craving something savory, they also provide an expansive food and beverage menu. It’s the ultimate place to stop at to satisfy your sweet tooth before heading on your flight. 

Indoor garden at HIA New Terminal Doha, Qatar.

5. Haneda Airport|Tokyo, Japan

Known as one of the cleanest airports in the world and the busiest airport in Japan, Haneda Airport is located just 30 minutes outside of Tokyo and is worth the extra time.

If you’re unable to leave during your stop, don’t worry, Haneda Airport brought the streets of Tokyo indoors to ensure visitors are not missing anything. Take a stroll down Edo Ko-ji (Edo Market), located on the fourth floor of the Haneda Airport International Departure Lobby. This shopping and dining complex was modeled after a typical street of old Japan from the 17th century, recreating the unique ambiance of the Edo period. Here, you can enjoy traditional Japanese goods at the shops and dine in one of the many restaurants. 

After grabbing something to eat, make your way over to Haneda’s version of the Nihonbashi Bridge. The original landmark is culturally significant in Japan, having connected the two banks of the Nihonbashi River since the Edo period. Across the bridge is Festival Plaza, where you can purchase ema (wooden tags), write wishes on them and add them to the surrounding walls for good luck. 

For an unforgettable experience, check out one of the many observation decks, giving you panoramic views of the runway and airport. Located in all three terminals, these are the ideal spots to hang out while getting an up-close view of the planes taking off and landing. Many restaurants within the airport offer this view, as well. Grab something to eat and drink while taking in the beauty of the surrounding area. 

6. Zurich Airport|Zurich, Switzerland

Zurich Airport is the premier airport for those seeking relaxation. While it’s the busiest hub in Switzerland, it offers countless beauty and health services to make your experience enjoyable. The airport also offers more than 40 bars, restaurants and cafes to choose from and 60 in-terminal stores. 

Feeling a little sore after your flight? Head over to Ceremony, a spa offering natural cosmetic and health-promoting treatments such as massages, facials, Kneipp wraps, manicures, pedicures and hair removal services. All of the products used are 100% Swiss-made and free of mineral oils, microplastics, silicone and parabens. If you need quick and efficient beauty services, check out Ella Beauty Salon, which offers high-quality treatments in a calming setting.

And if you want to move your body before your next flight, step out into the park located in The Circle (a district of Zurich Airport). Set within 80,000 square meters of natural beauty, the park offers a range of walking trails, jogging routes and body weight gyms to help you get some fresh air before you jet off to your final destination. 

7. Hong Kong International Airport|Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong

From watching a movie in IMAX to playing a game of virtual basketball, Hong Kong International Airport has everything to keep you occupied during your layover. 

For entertainment, make sure to catch the latest movie at the IMAX theater, located on level 6 of Terminal 2. This theater features the largest screen in Hong Kong, stretching over 64 by 44 feet. For other kinds of entertainment, make your way over to the Aviation Discovery Center on the same floor, showing the growth of the aviation industry of Hong Kong alongside other topics. Take a seat in the pilot’s seat at the flight simulator to get a feel for what it’s like to fly a plane. 

A long flight can make your body stiff and sore, so what better way to get yourself moving again than taking part in some sports games? Hong Kong International Airport offers a 3D gaming experience made available by i-Sports. From football to basketball, different sports can be played in this area through virtual reality. It’s a great way to get in some movement while taking part in your favorite activity.

Enjoy every minute of your next layover

Spending extra time in the airport can be fun unless something goes awry. To help avoid any travel mishaps, make sure to cover your trip with Faye Travel Insurance.

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